Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ugly Mug Mondays!

Once upon a time I thought I would start doing self-portraits once a week. As with most things I had the thought and let it slip past me. Well I came back around to that notion just the other day, but this time I gave it a name. I don't know what possessed me to do such a thing, but I have named it:

Ugly Mug Mondays!

The plan is to post drawings or paintings that are of the self-portrait variety. Of my ugly mug. It isn't that I'm vain and that I love staring at myself in the mirror - or even that I'm that great of a model - but hey, I'm always available. Cheap and available. If nothing else, I always know where I am.

For the first venture, I broke out the gouache set again. I started with a quick and loose drawing on bristol then I spray-fixed it. Once that was all setup and ready to rock and roll I made a mess on top of it with the gouache. Messes are fun. Weird things happen when you make a mess and have the daunting task of cleaning them up, and in that weird space you learn. I can't wait to see what happens next week!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Playing Make-Believe

When I was a kid I used to play dress-up all the time. Of course all of the standards were present; cowboy, police man, army man, Superman (with the ever present clothes-pinned bath towel for a cape), and ninja. I think most people grew out of this phase, and I think my mom really hoped I would. 'Cause after all, I scavenged what I could from around the house to aid in my make-believe adventures. Here I am, "all grown up" and I'm still dressing up in my free time and traipsing around the living room.

Anywho, I've been working out a drawing for a new painting and I wanted to make sure the costuming was convincing. There are a few more kinks to work out, namely how to photograph the action I need, but I thought I'd share this picture with you good folks as a sort of teaser.

Also, you'll note the sleeping dog on the pillow on screen left. He's such a lazy little thing.

Friday, March 19, 2010


A friend of mine asked me to do a couple of paintings for her, the first of which being based on, inspired if you will, Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo. For those of you that have seen that movie (and really, how many people that are left haven't?), this isn't supposed to be a movie poster for the film. I was trying to create an image that was more towards the sense of vertigo, I suppose. So that would be why the figure doesn't look a thing like Mr. Stewart. I just wanted to get that out of the way before someone poked at me and gave me a hard time about it.

I threw just about everything I had at this painting. It took me a considerable amount of time to come up with a sketch that I liked enough to move forward with. Then I spent a few days snapping reference until I got enough that I felt would be acceptable. Next up I sat down and chiseled out a value study to work out some of the preliminary hitches. As of late I've been scanning my sketches or other preliminary drawings and using Photoshop to scrape together a value study. I'm really beginning to enjoy this stage of the process. If my picture doesn't work in black and white, it won't work in color, so I have to make sure at this stage of the game that I have everything I need for balance, composition, and what have you. If anything with scale needs to be worked out from my original drawing it's a simple matter of stretching or squashing and then working on top of it in a different layer if I need to.

It was about this time that I became obsessed with finding solid color schemes, so I sat down and painted up a little 5 x 7 color study. I could have done this part on the computer as well, quite easily as a matter of fact, but I wanted to limit the tubes of paint that I had out for use . So I found the main three tubes I wanted to use and hashed out my little color comp. Once I thought I had everything I needed, I enlarged my value study and transferred it to the canvas. All that remained to do was paint it.

Admittedly I got through most of the painting with no real problems. But eventually I ran into a snag. I realized I wanted a somewhat dramatically lit face for my figure, but the drawing I had originally done with my value study just wasn't cutting it. As near as I could tell I had two options;

1. Try to light my own mug again and set up the lights to get the results I wanted.
2. Find some willing model so I could do the same.

Unfortunately neither option was particularly attractive at 3 in the morning. All of a sudden I realized I needed (and/or desperately wanted) a planes of the head model . In lieu of shelling out $98 though, I realized I have Poser 6 installed and could get the next best thing. So I fired it up and got the reference I needed. Then I redrew the face and viola! Things came into place. I did the same for the hand. Using Poser as a tool to work through difficult and tricky lighting only, and not as a model for form.

I think it all came together for something pretty neat. I'll be delivering the painting to my friend this weekend, I hope she likes it.

Oil on canvas. 24 x 30.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Killing time. And art.

Last night I was waiting for a failing experiment to fail (erm... I mean dry) so I sat down in front of my computer. Lucky for me I found a pack of 5 x 8 index cards in the studio while I was cleaning the night before. I picked up my trusty old Pentel brush pen and started making a mess. Before too long I added a few white highlights and called it quits. I've got a huge stack of these cards, so I may have to play with this some more.

Ink on paper. 30 minutes